Teens went to a sporting goods store to return airsoft guns. An armed man fatally shot one in the back, authorities say

An armed man who “took it upon himself” to conduct surveillance outside a sporting goods store in suburban Seattle has been charged with murder after he fatally shot in the back a teenager who had an airsoft gun in his pocket, prosecutors said.

Aaron Brown Myers, 51, was charged with second-degree murder and second-degree assault in the killing of the 17-year-old, identified as H.R., according to court documents. The teen was shot once in the side and at least six times in the back, and he died at the scene, the documents state.

“In this case the defendant attacked three teenagers who had not committed any crime and at every stage of the interaction chose to escalate with more and more violence until it culminated in the defendant taking the life of 17-year-old H.R.,” King County senior deputy prosecuting attorney Lauren M. Burke wrote in a case summary and request for bail.

In a statement on Wednesday, attorneys for Myers said he was a “professional security consultant” and argued he fired in self-defense.

“We are confident that over the course of this investigation the evidence will show that Mr. Myers’ only intent that day was to protect himself and others from serious harm or death,” attorneys Michelle Scudder and Zachary Wagnild said in an email to CNN.

The incident began the evening of June 5 when H.R. and two other teenagers approached a Big 5 Sporting Goods store in Renton, Washington, according to the court documents.

H.R. had an airsoft gun in a pocket, and a teenage friend, identified as B.A., had an airsoft gun in his coat pocket, according to court documents.

Myers, who is not a member of law enforcement, had decided to conduct “overwatch” at the parking lot and “immediately assumed” the three teens were about to commit a violent robbery, the prosecutor wrote. Overwatch is a military term for surveilling a location.

He exited his vehicle and pointed his pistol at the trio, commanding them to stop, drop their guns and get on the ground, the documents state. The teens complied and B.A. put the airsoft gun on the ground, saying it was just a “BB gun,” according to the prosecutor.

The 51-year-old then tackled B.A. and pinned him to the ground, the documents state. H.R. had his hands in the air and was backing away, and Myers then shot at him at least seven times, killing the teen, according to the case summary.

Myers was arrested at the scene and remains in custody at the King County Correctional Facility on $2 million bail, according to jail records. His arraignment is set for June 24.

His attorneys said he acted because he believed he was witnessing a crime in progress.

“Mr. Myers and his family are devastated by this tragedy and the fact that it resulted in the loss of a young man’s life,” the attorneys wrote. “On the evening in question Mr. Myers sincerely believed that he was witnessing the beginning of an armed robbery when he observed three young men pass his truck on their way into a store that was adjacent to the location where his son was attending a martial arts class.

“When he saw one of the men remove a firearm from his waistband Mr. Myers, a professional security consultant, intervened quickly in the hope of stopping the robbery before anyone got hurt. Unfortunately, during the confrontation Mr. Myers became in fear for his own life and fired his duty weapon to defend himself.”

Incident was captured on surveillance video

According to a probable cause document filed by the Renton Police Department, parts of the incident were captured on surveillance video from the Big 5 store and a martial arts business. CNN is working to obtain the videos, which have not been released publicly.

According to the document, the video shows Myers approaching two of the teens and pointing a pistol at them, causing B.A. to put down the airsoft pistol and show his empty hands. H.R. also had his fingers extended to show his hands were empty and started to turn his body, the document states. Both his hands were initially raised over his head, and his right arm then briefly lowered before Myers – who was straddling B.A. on the ground – opened fire, the document states.

B.A. told detectives he and H.R. liked to go into the woods and shoot things, but H.R.’s airsoft gun was having issues, so they were going to the sporting goods store to exchange or return it, the document states. B.A. said his airsoft gun had been in his coat pocket, and H.R. did not take out his airsoft gun, according to the documents.

“B.A. said that they told Myers numerous times that the guns were BB guns,” the document states.

After he was shot, H.R. called out for his mom, the third teenager, identified as S.A., told investigators.

In an interview with police, Myers said he conducts “overwatch” at the location and “has seen numerous crimes occur in the parking lot in the past,” according to a probable cause affidavit. Myers stated he saw three males walk in front of his parked vehicle and noticed one had a gun, and he believed they were going to commit an armed robbery, the affidavit says.

“Myers said that he felt like he did not have time to call 911, and that he felt he had a duty to act to stop the individuals from hurting someone innocent,” the affidavit states.

The affidavit states that “many” of the details Myers told police were “not consistent” with the surveillance video.

Myers had previously been involved in a March 2022 incident in which he chose to “intervene” when he mistakenly believed someone was armed, according to the document.

In that case, Myers called 911 to report that a person on a bicycle was pointing a gun at people, and Myers said he had a pistol and may have to intervene, the affidavit states. Myers then followed the bicyclist and told police he thought he might have to shoot the person. Officers arrived at the scene and determined the bicyclist’s item was not a gun but “a silver metal object that was possibly a part to a bicycle,” the document states.

Burke, the prosecutor, wrote that this prior incident “establishes that this self-imposed ‘duty to intervene’ is part of the defendant’s regular approach to interacting with the public.”

“Only a high bail, electronic home detention, and surrender of all firearms will protect the community from an untrained civilian who believes he has a duty to shoot people who have not hurt anyone,” she wrote.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com